As if the New York Islanders didn’t already have a crowded enough crease, their third-round pick from 2014 has been named the KHL’s best goaltender for 2015-16. Ilya Sorokin won the award and was also named to the league’s All-Star team.
The 20-year-old goaltender complied a 17-7-4 record for CSKA to go along with a sparkling .953 save percentage and a ridiculous 1.06 GAA. While goals against average is a flawed stat when it comes to comparing one goalie to another, 1.06 is still a ludicrous number to maintain across 28 games.
Sorokin lead his team to Game 7 of the Gagarin Cup Final with a 15-5 record, but CSKA fell to Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He had three shutouts during the playoffs to go along with the seven he notched during the regular season. While he may just be getting recognition now, the netminder has been playing against grown men in the KHL since the 2012-13 campaign.
It’s also worth nothing that he is the youngest goalie to ever win the KHL’s top honors, and was rewarded for his outstanding season with… an insurance policy from Russian insurance agency SOGOZ. (H/t to Dan Saraceni of LighthouseHockey.com for both of those tidbits.)
Last August when InGoalMag.com released their top 50 goaltending prospects list, Sorokin was ranked at No. 27. The site noted that the netminder would have likely gone higher in 2014 had he not been a Russian player signed to a KHL contract. It may take some time for the goalie to land in North America, but he’s certainly been turning some heads with his play over the last several months.
The development of Sorokin has to be exciting for the Islanders and their scouts. They already have highly-touted Stephon Williams getting ice time at the AHL level while 23-year-old Christopher Gibson and 24-year-old Jean-Francois Berube both saw time in New York this season.
With 30-year-old Thomas Greiss having evolved into a goalie who can at least split time with Jaroslav Halak in 2016-17, the Islanders seemingly have a wealth of talent in goal.